A few years ago, Air Force 1 released a squadron’s worth of 1:72 scale F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, eventually selling out of both the “B” and “C” variants thus leaving collectors high and dry. Happily, the Company has revisited the F-35 hangar, producing another B and now a second C version, sporting new squadron markings and, if you can believe it, the correct helmets for the pilot figures. Will wonders never cease.
Air Force 1
It was perhaps a matter of time before Air Force 1 got around to modelling the US President’s short-hopper, “Marine One”. After all, the manufacturer has released four operational schemes to date, so a Presidential version was likely in the cards from day one.
Based upon the MV-22B variant of the Osprey, Air Force 1’s depiction of “Marine One” bears the familiar green and white paint scheme associated with the President’s ride, as well as the tell tale “United States Marine Corps” stenciled across the length of the fuselage (AF10012B). Look for “Marine One” to lift off from the White House lawn this October.
It’s no secret that Chinese-based Air Force 1 has an affinity for modern aircraft fielded by the Peoples Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), so when we received their latest sales brochure we were wondering what took them so long to offer up their latest fare? This May, no less than nine new models are slated for the collector’s market, all based on platforms used by the PLAAF. Perhaps the most intriguing new replica is this 1:72 scale take on the Shenyang J-31 stealth fighter (AF10131), largely viewed by Western analysts as a pirated version of the US F-35 stealth fighter. Larger than the F-35, the J-31 may not be as capable or as stealthy as the F-35, so it remains to be seen how the PLAAF will operate their newest system.
In addition to the J-31, AF1 will make available an octet of 1:100-1:144 scale fixed- and rotary wing aircraft, which we are in the process of uploading to our site. While some critics point to a few inconsistencies and inaccuracies with the AF1 models, no one can take issue with their pricing. Most of the new items weigh in at around $20-$25, with the J-31 topping out at $49.99, certainly a bargain compared to other new modern aircraft being rolling out by other manufacturers.
Air Force 1 has been relatively mum of late, releasing only a handful of new aircraft types to keep them in the diecast aviation game. Part of the problem are the number of gaffs they seem to make with each new release, either including pilots with blue helmets for every aircraft, era and nation, sloppy typos on their packaging, wrong scales, etc. So, with that in mind, they took the bold step of announcing plans to make a 1:48 scale version of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. Currently slated for a May release, their inaugural replica looks to bring to life the mount of famed ace Tommy McGuire, when he was with the 475th Fighter Group then doing battle with the Japanese in the Pacific Theatre of Operations during 1943 (AF10150).
Some pundits have already speculated that the AF1 version looks eerily similar to one once offered by The Franklin Mint, but according to the promotional literature, the AF1 version will feature optional position landing gear, something the Franklin Mint version lacked. Lets keep our finger crossed that the pilots are correctly characterized.
“Why, it’s a flying fortress!”
– Richard Williams, reporter for the Seattle Times, upon seeing a B-17 heavy bomber for the first time
With sales of its first 1:72 scale B-17 far outstripping expectations, Air Force 1 drew back the curtain on its next Flying Fortress. Due out this December, the second “G” model is based upon “Nine O Nine”, a heavy bomber that was attached to the 323rd Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group, then deployed to Bassingbourn, England, during 1944.
Indeed, “Nine-O-Nine” was a Boeing B-17G-30-BO Flying Fortress heavy bomber that completed 140 combat missions during World War II, believed to be the Eighth Air Force record for most missions, without loss to the crews that flew it.
The original aircraft, a block 30 B-17G manufactured by Boeing, was nicknamed after the last three digits of her serial number: 42-31909. “Nine-O-Nine” was added to the USAAF inventory on December 15th, 1943, and flown overseas on February 5th, 1944. After depot modifications, she was delivered to the 91st BG at RAF Bassingbourn, England, on February 24th, 1944, as a replacement aircraft, one of the last B-17s received in factory-applied camouflage paint.
A former navigator of the 91st BG, Marion Havelaar, reported in his history of the group that “Nine-O-Nine” completed either 126 or 132 consecutive missions without aborting for mechanical reasons, also believed to be a record. M/Sgt. Rollin L. Davis, maintenance line chief of the bomber, received the Bronze Star for his role in achieving the record.
Her first bombing raid was on Augsburg, Germany, on February 25th, 1944. She made 18 bombing raids on Berlin. In all, she flew 1,129 hours and dropped 562,000 pounds of bombs. She had 21 engine changes, four wing panel changes, 15 main gas tank changes, and 18 changes of Tokyo tanks (long-range fuel tanks).
After the hostilities ceased in Europe, “Nine-O-Nine” was returned to the United States on June 8th, 1945, and was consigned to the RFC facility at Kingman, Arizona on December 7th, 1945, and eventually scrapped.
We are thrilled to report the arrival of the first set of aircraft in Air Force 1’s all-new Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Aircraft of Our Time series. While the marque could use some pruning, these multi-scale warbirds pay homage to many of the most iconic aircraft in the US inventory, from the venerable B-25 Mitchell medium bomber to the super-sleek, super-fast SR-17 Blackbird, all of which have been replicated previously in larger scale formats. Affordably priced and attractively packaged, these aircraft make wonderful gifts for the holidays and a great way for new collectors to gain a foothold in the hobby.
The first image has surfaced of Air Force 1’s upcoming 1:72 scale B-17G Flying Fortress bomber. Based upon a four-engine heavy bomber that flew with the 709th Bombardment Squadron, 447th Bombardment Group, then deployed to Rattlesden, Norfolk, England in early 1945, the upgunned G version features the insidious chin turret which was designed to help ward off enemy fighters from making a head-on attack.
Likewise, the replica boasts all of the other armament that helped give the plane its dubious moniker, from its top- and ball turret battlements to its twin waist and rear defensive guns. And not a Chinese crewman in sight! Look for this beauty to begin its bomb run some time in June.
Some times a company pivots when you least expect it. With their eagerly awaited 1:72 scale Boeing B-17 bomber just a month away, and little else on the docket for the forseeable future, Air Force 1 Model Company announced their intent to create a brand new series of military miniatures in conjunction with the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Dubbed simply as their Smithsonian Series, plans call for an initial batch of five aircraft to be produced, all in differing scales and, naturally enough, based upon aircraft they’ve previously researched and produced in much larger, standard formats.
The five aircraft include a B-25 Mitchell bomber, B-29 Superfortress, SR-71 Blackbird, P-61 Black Widow and a MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. Look for the quintet to arrive some time in July.
Certainly one of the most anticipated products for 2016 is the Air Force 1 1:72 scale Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Decked out in the livery of “Bit ‘o Lace”, a “G” model that flew with the 709th Bomb Squadron, 447th Bombardment Group, then based at Rattlesden, Norfolk, in 1945, we first learned of this warplane well over a year ago, yet despite the lengthy wait, we haven’t so much as seen an image of the replica, much less heard of a firm ship date. Currently, “Bit ‘o Lace” is slated for a May touch down, although this will likely slip seeing as how it should be wheeled out of its design hangar in completed form right about now. We’re hoping they get it right, because there are literally loads of follow-on bombers they can replicate, and a host of other variants screaming out to be modeled, all at a price point designed to help move gaggles of product. Keep your fingers crossed we see this item soon, hopefully well before Father’s Day.
First announced several months ago, Air Force 1 has finally taken the wraps off of their upcoming pair of Doolittle Raider B-25 Mitchell bombers.
Earmarked for early 2016, the 1:72 scale twin-engine bomber, famous for its role in bombing Tokyo after launching from the aircraft carrier, USS Hornet, features fixed, lowered landing gear, a rotating top turret, spinning propellers, and all of the hallmark detail we’ve come to expect from this relatively new model maker.
While the signature edition replica is already pre-sold out, you can still nab the standard edition, sans Lt. Richard E. Dick Cole’s autograph, for the paltry price of just $79.99.